Ivana Bacik to deliver Trinity College Dublin Memorial Discourse

25 April 2022

Ivana Bacik TD, leader of the Labour Party, is to deliver the annual Trinity Monday Memorial Discourse today (Monday, 25th April) in Trinity College. The subject of Deputy Bacik’s discourse will be the life of the distinguished Trinity Law graduate, Averil Deverell (1893–1979); one of the first two women to be called to the Bar of Ireland or England in 1921; and the first woman to practise here or in England as a barrister.

Speaking later today on the life of Averil Deverll, Deputy Bacik will say:

“I am especially honoured to join the highly distinguished line of previous Trinity Monday speakers, dating back to 1895. It is notable however that in all the decades of Trinity Monday discourses, today’s lecture will focus on only the sixth woman, out of a total of 122 discourses. Time for more positive action in the selection of those to be recognised in these Trinity Monday events.

“Averil Deverell’s remarkable life and long career are indeed worthy of celebration. Uniquely for her generation of women, she practised for over 40 years at the Bar. But by the time she retired in 1979, there were still only a small number of other women working as barristers. Indeed, it was to take many decades before any substantial breakthrough for a critical mass of women was to be achieved within the professions and public life in Ireland. Her initial breakthrough in being called to the Bar in 1921 was not followed by any substantial breakthrough for other women.

“For far too long, the achievements of Averil Deverell and her few contemporaries who succeeded in establishing legal careers remained unrecognised. While the belated acknowledgement and honouring of Averil Deverell is very welcome, there is a salutary lesson in learning of the context in which she lived and worked. It is that change to culture never comes by default. It is always hard-fought and hard-won – whether in law, in politics or elsewhere. With women still constituting less than one-quarter of the members of the Dáil, we need to take more proactive steps to achieve cultural, social and political change for greater equality and to increase the numbers of women in politics, the law and public life generally.”

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